Jericko Arangis

In the mysterious archipelago called bureaucracy paradise (Philippines) where red tape flows like the majestic river, I find myself enticed by the papers, queues, and a labyrinth of government procedures. Efficiency? Forget it! We’re here to savor the sheer pleasure brought by the bureaucratic jungle.

What is red tape, you ask? Oh, such brilliantly crafted red tape – the best ride around the never-ending world of paperwork. Picture this: an elaborate maze of rules, laws, and steps befitting Herodotus describing them to a veteran detective with a loupe and doctorate in Egyptian hieroglyphics. It’s some kind of Filipinized version added to bureaucracy.
   There is one thing everybody in the Philippines understands – there is no easy way when it comes to getting a certain document. However, why must such an odyssey be dull? Come on, you all, it’s fun! When seeking a simple government identification, all I see is the art of form-filling and signature. It takes a million guts and thousands of minutes to be a champion at this. This voyage through the paperwork begins with a seemingly designed-to-test human limitations, an application form you get to fill out for yourself. It’s kind of confusing sometimes because of the jargon, but who cares? It’s an amazing experience for our brains. In fact, I have learned to admire the craftsmanship that goes into making my unique signature in quadruplicate – each dash being like a painting stroke in a fine piece of administrative art. Juan Luna would be proud. Next, the “waiting game” – a strategic endurance exercise for our patience and humility. Walking alongside other fans down this road gives me a lot to appreciate. I mean, I know I would be the only one who would be here. With that, I have to be understanding of the fits they throw and the rolling eyes of the civil servants. It’s a collaborative effort of emotions ranging from joy to frustration and resignation in time to the rhythm of calming bureaucratic hurdles, but I know this is just a test for my Filipino blood; the resiliency in me should prevail. Filipinos seem to love “waiting in line,” so why not use that same time productively for something else? Think like a telepath and attempt to communicate mentally with government officials. Think of the smiles on their faces after finding out you’ve answered all your questions without even speaking a word. Mind-reading: the ultimate bureaucratic shortcut! Of course, no bureaucratic story would be complete without the thrill of waiting in line for hours and hours of your day. To appreciate the interior design of the buildings, the strategic placement of chairs, and the multiple counters for inquiries. Oh! Also, you just have to wonder about the occasional mysterious disappearance of office personnel. At this point, patience is just a virtue – it’s a superpower. Another sense of suspense again comes with discovering a missing document just as you approach the finish line. It's like a plot twist in a gripping novel – unexpected, exhilarating, and guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. As I finally receive my long-awaited signed government forms, I can't help but reflect on the beauty of the red-tape journey. It was a journey I should tell my grandchildren, a journey I want them to listen from which they can glean moral lessons. The circus of bureaucracy has become my preferred form of entertainment, a source of joy in a world that often rushes past the subtleties of life. Remember, as a Filipino, you do not complain. “Dapat magpasalamat ka pa nga kasi…” Oops! Anyway, here's to the Philippines where red tape is an art form, and every bureaucratic hurdle is a steppingstone on the path to administrative enlightenment. Embrace the chaos, relish the delays, and savor the flavor of red tape – for in this convoluted world of paperwork, there's a certain charm that only true aficionados can appreciate. Edited by Khezyll Galvan