February 2, 2009

Quiet, orderly, efficient

For almost a decade now, I've been the one in our family going to the Quezon City Hall to pay for the annual property taxes which each city and municipality in Metro Manila collects from property owners. When I started going, the records were still actual paper documents filed in huge binders which had to be manually searched and photocopied, and forms had to be filled out by hand or typewriter. It was slow, cumbersome, errors were easy to make and I had to be there early just to make sure I finished everything within one day. After a few years of that, I experienced the year that city hall went through its massive computerization program—and it really must have been massive since Quezon City is the largest city in Metro Manila. That year, I had to go through a few extra steps, but knowing that it would ease the entire process in the future, I did everything patiently and willingly. For the past several years, paying property taxes in Quezon City Hall has been easy as pie. I go to the Tax Assessment Lounge where I'm issued a number. When my number comes up on the board, I go to one of 27 counters, hand the clerk my copies of the previous year's receipts, and I'm given my bills. Then I go to the Taxpayer's Lounge where I'm given another number and I just wait my turn to pay. This second lounge has TV screens and taxpayers can get free coffee or hot chocolate from the dispensers at the back (off the photo). I've learned not to get any because with 24 counters here, I never finish the cup before my number comes up. From start to finish, this task now only takes up about 40 minutes of my time. So to Mayor Sonny Belmonte, City Treasurer Victor Endriga, ate (ah-teh, big sister—also used as a term of respect) Nieves who gave me permission to take this photo, and to the many men and women of Quezon City Hall who still believe in the term "public servants": a heartfelt "Thank you."

taxpayers' lounge at the Quezon City Hall

19 comments:

Putra Riau said...

Yeah, All of us hope that..

angela said...

Cynical maybe but I've found that departments that want to take my money are always more efficient than the others..

I could relate to this post, Hilda, and the photo. I thought I was looking at a photo of our government offices..

Lois said...

Wow that's a big difference between then and now! I was actually able to pay my property taxes online last year. Nice, but it doesn't make the sting of having to pay the taxes any better!

Nancy said...

Bless your heart for taking care of business for the family.

Marc said...

You sound almost like a happy tax payer, but that of course is a contradiction in terms. :-)

craig said...

A system that works! Thats good to see :)

Marie said...

This is a way to socialize! In France we pay by Internet or regular mail, I guess. I don't pay any property taxes as I don't own anything :-)

George said...

It's nice to read of an instance when the government can become more efficient.

Ming the Merciless said...

I totally understand your sentiment. I had to renew my passport last week and my driver's license a year ago, and the numbering system is simply amazing in moving things along. Nobody has to stand around the windows waiting for their turn.

Afyonkarahisar said...

You are a valuable writing. Photos and articles I'd read with pleasure. Greetings.

Boise Diva said...

Kudos for efficiency and being able to see it, and enjoy it.

lunarossa said...

It sounds (and looks) very well organized and efficient, and to tell the truth if I were you I'd stop to have a small chocolate and a chat with some of those lovely people eager to pay taxes!!! This is actually a difficult topic for me at the moment as I've just paid my taxes and I'm not a happy bunny! Ciao. Antonella. PS Today more than ever I envy your mild temperature!!!

Saretta said...

That's great! I hope you get your free coffee after you pay your bills, at least!

Kayni said...

I've honestly never stayed in Manila for more than three days. I've been to Quezon City, but just to process documents then back to Baguio right away. Hopefully, I'll get to know more Manila through your blog.

Jackie said...

Paying taxes is never fun - at least they've made it a bit less painful!

Re your question on my blog - there's a link to the band's music on the post, it's quite a bit livelier than Enya. I do think you'll like the singer I'll be showing tomorrow, and there's a link to her music too so you can have a listen.

Per Stromsjo said...

We keep complaining about computers so it's good to be reminded once in a while about what kind of difference they really mean in all our lives.

Ruby said...

That seems like a really efficient system now!

I absolutey hate waiting. It feels like "control" of the worst kind. The UK is really bad with beaucracy, most of it for no good reason as far as I can see - but waiting in NHS hospitals is the worst, and I can never understand why I'm given a time for my appointment and then still have to wait up to 2 hours to see a doctor!

Maybe I should move to Manila!

Hyde DP said...

I don't really understand the system but it sounds like you've cracked it.

Joe Narvaez said...

That's wonderful. Now, if all government offices could just do that.