The Struggles of Getting Valid IDs in the Philippines

I have lived abroad most of my life and ever since I moved to the Philippines less than a decade ago, I never really thought about getting a valid ID. That may sound stupid and irresponsible, but the truth is that I never really needed one and therefore never had a reason to get one. I have a US passport, and I have used that as my valid ID for most things throughout my almost-a-decade of a life here.

With my US passport, I was able to open multiple bank accounts. I was able to travel. I was able to work. I have an SSS number and a TIN number and all of that, but all of those numbers were given to me by a company I once worked for that took care of all of that, but they never actually gave me the physical IDs for those numbers.

And then 2018 came – and with that came the expiration of my US passport, and me trying to get a new one. Since I was renewing my US passport, I also decided to apply for a Philippine passport, so that I can get my daughter one, as well. However, in order to get a Philippine passport, I need a valid government-issued ID.

So what are my choices at this time of the year? A Voter’s ID, which I can no longer get because voting registration ended sometime last month; a driver’s license, which I originally wasn’t comfortable getting since I am not 100% confident in my driving skills; or an SSS ID.

However, even though I have had an SSS number for the past six years or so, I cannot get the actual SSS ID without first presenting a valid ID in the form of a driver’s license or a passport… and since I can’t get a passport as seen above, I am actually left with no choice but to try and get a driver’s license despite my subpar driving skills.

That isn’t as easy as it sounds, either. Before I can get a driver’s license, I need to get a student permit and have that student permit for at least a month before I take the tests, and then of course I have to pass the tests in order to get a license. Only THEN can I apply for a passport.

Right now, I am, of course, seeing this as a blessing as I will be forced to finally get a driver’s license; but at the same time, I can’t help but feel like this is all a little silly. What if I don’t want to drive in a country where road rules don’t seem to exist? Isn’t it silly that I have to force myself to do that just so I can get a passport? And why are there so many other IDs that are valid elsewhere (like a Postal ID, NBI Clearance, PhilHealth ID, or TIN ID, for example) but aren’t valid if you want to get a passport?

Isn’t there some way we can get some sort of unified ID that will make Filipinos’ lives easier? 🙁

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