Also, “Claiming packages from Philpost.”
I just thought I’d reminisce about my past experiences from claiming packages in the Philpost customs division. If you are new to this, the most probable situations wherein you might encounter the Philpost customs are either if you ordered anything from abroad and have chosen the cheapest shipping option, or if you are receiving a gift from anyone abroad via the same circumstances.
If you ordered something online and chose USPS (United States Postal Service), your package will travel from the product’s warehouse to the airport and finally into the Philippines complete with real-time online tracking via the USPS site. This usually takes four days to a week using the standard service and is very dependable. The problem starts when your package is already here in the Philippines. Add at least one more week and you will receive a note on a 3×5 index card that you have a package waiting for you at the Philippine Postal Corporation main office. This is in front of the old domestic airport. I think on about my third experience, I chose not to wait for the note and instead called Philpost, gave them my tracking number and asked if my package was already there. It was, only I have to pass by the front office to to have them print a card for me. You can’t just go in the customs area if you don’t have a notice. Upon entering the compound of the head office, the customs area is to your left.
The customs area isÂ a semi-warehouse that has a rather unfashionable reception area. This is where you exchange your notice and wait for the customs people to locate your package. Once your package has been located, or, after approximately an hour, you will be called to enter the, and the climax of this post, den-of-corruption.
Your package will be opened in front of you, it will be identified and classified using their “guidebook” which lists all possible criteria for material goodsÂ like electronics, clothing, jewelry, etc. Tax will be calculated next.
I have claimed a $750 electric guitar, guitar gadgets, car parts, more car parts, and I have to say the average total calculated cost of my fees averages 40% of the declared cost of my goods. I do not know what sort of magic calculator they use but I always seem to lose focus once all the numbers and percentage signs pile up. They calculate this in front of you.
In my guitar incident, I would have paid and additional Php 10,000.00 for a Php 35,000.00 guitar. My wallet was shy of about 5 large. My options, pick-up my precious axe some other time or rush to the nearest atm. In total desperation I respectfully asked why I have to pay so much. The explanation was one done with abrupt, precise and professionally composed wordings only goverment officials understand.
“Kailangan mo ba ng tulong?” were the sweetest five words I heard that day. “Opo ma’am.” “Magkano ba kaya mo?” “Ma’am ito lang po.” Discretely exposing my measly three bills of a thousand each. “O sige iho, ok lang ba sa’yo walang resibo?” “Ok lang po.” “Ibigay mo ito dun sa ale sa isang lamesa, sabihin mo tinulungan kita.”
On to the next table. “Ah tinulungan ka ba ni ano…” “Opo ma’am.” ” O sige ilagay mo dito ang pera tapos magbayad ka nalang ng kinse sa labas.” “Salamat po.” On my wayÂ then to night’s worth of chords, scales, hammering, slides, etc. It was a sweet Parker P-42 electric guitar in gray.
Some other things I said, saw and learned on my succeeding trips. “Ma’am pwede nyo ba ako tulungan?” “Ma’am kahit wala nalang po resibo.” Two young policemen hanging around the customs area were at one time talking about guns whilst acting out shootouts with their real guns and, hitting on a pretty lady accompanied by her mother claiming a package from who-knows-who. The customs area has a daily quota of I believe is around Php 200,000.00 per day. I know this because there was this one time I was trying to haggle my fees and I constantly heard her say “Iho malayo pa kami sa quota ngayong araw, kung gusto mo balik ka nalang mamaya.” And finally, I’ve never lost a package from doing this. But then again, I’ve also been robbed.
I have since resorted to Johnny Air, a cheaper and less hassle way of having your items shipped in a U.S. address and then later forwarded by them. If I had the money I’d chose FedEx. If I had more money I’d chose UPS. If I’m stupid, I’d go back to Philpost.